Local Soroptimists celebrate anniversary

By Shanna Robb

Special to the Town Crier

One of the club’s founding members, Jeanette Schultejann, reflects on 44 years with Soroptimist with current President Theresa Teel. They hold a certificate of recognition for the anniversary from Soroptimist’s Golden West Region. Photo by Halie Wilson

Forty-four years ago, 38 local women came together with the mission to change the lives of girls and women in Idyllwild and internationally. Their decision to

charter the International Soroptimist of Idyllwild would, unbeknownst to them, become one of the longest running nonprofits in Idyllwild.

Jeanette Schultejann, Idyllwild resident for the past 50 years, was one of the founding members. The late Ann Lay, owner of Idyllwild Institute Fiesta, was the driving force behind creating the club. While taking a short hiatus to focus on family, as a life member, Jeanette continues to attend monthly membership meetings.

Some of the membership guidelines have changed over the years, but the mission has never wavered. As Jeanette explained, “This is a service group whose mission has been and is focused on what is best for women.”

Jump forward 44 years: While the economy has impacted the membership numbers in the past, the club currently has 30 active members. Helping lead the mission of transforming the lives of women through education, empowerment and enabling opportunities is Theresa Teel, current president and second-generation member.

In addition to stopping human trafficking, which includes shutting down two major corridors in Riverside, the Soroptimists fund several scholarships. Teel, while pursuing her master’s degree, had received a $1,000 college scholarship from Soroptimists. After receiving her degree, she sought a way to give back and Soroptimists was a natural fit.

When asked what she would say to the next generation of members, including her 5-year-old daughter, Theresa shared, “We have the opportunity to improve the lives of women and in doing so, improve the lives of their family and community. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of it?”

In addition to supporting the HELP Center and funding a number of scholarships totaling $5,600 in 2016, the club funds a “Live Your Dream Award.” The award is for women going back to school who are heads of households. Teel encourages local women who may qualify to submit an application starting July 1 that can be found at www.liveyourdream.org.

The last fundraiser, a comedy night,  was Tuesday, June 20, at the Idyllwild Brewpub and raised funds to fights human trafficking.

The local Idyllwild club is part of an international force originally founded in Oakland in 1921. Ninety-six years old, the global network includes more than 75,000 members in 120 countries.